MILWAUKEE — It’s always one of my favorite times of the year. Mid-June and an invitation to the 2013 Milwaukee Tools New Tool Symposium has already been RSVP’d. Reporters and trade media from across North America were invited to the annual event where Milwaukee Tool Corp. opens its doors for a hands-on approach, and an all-access look at the design, innovation, power, and people behind the tools.
“It all starts with the people here at Milwaukee,” said Steve Richman, president of Milwaukee Electric Tool. “We have the best people in the industry.”
Always wanting to change up the setting of the Symposium — and wanting guests to take in a little local Milwaukee flavor — the Milwaukee Tool marketing team set up a unique stay at the old Pabst Brewery — the Brewhouse Inn and Suites at the Historic Pabst Brewery — which has been transformed into a beautiful hotel. For more than 150 years, this particular downtown block was home to the Pabst brewery. Pabst vacated in the mid-90s and the complex was purchased by Joseph J. Zilber, a Milwaukee-based philanthropist. The 20-acre complex is being restored into a LEED-certified, Platinum-rated sustainable development. And at the center of the development — the Brewhouse Inn and Suites, an all-suite green hotel.
The Tool Symposium was across the street from the hotel, located in a parking garage where part of the newly renovated space was transformed into a Milwaukee Tool staging area. At one point during the event, groups were shuttled to an actual jobsite to exemplify the advantage of using Milwaukee tools on every aspect of the job — from electrical, mechanical, plumbing and test and measurement.
Contractor Andy Olsen, Protech Mechanical, Milwaukee, was on hand to demonstrate Milwaukee’s FLT fluorescent light and ballast tester in the mechanical room of the underground parking area.
Targeting core users
Behind the curtain of its core competency, Milwaukee believes in “disruptive innovation,” a term president Steve Richman has instilled in the company since his arrival years ago.
“We talk about disruptive innovation, not incremental innovation,” said Richman. “We are not just adding a feature to an existing tool. It’s about changing the game and delivering solutions to its core users in a very unique way.” The focus at Milwaukee has always been its core end users — mechanical contractors, plumbers, electricians, remodelers and MRO specialists. Milwaukee is out in the field with contractors, listening and learning so they can continue to make a better tool for users so in turn they can do their job easier and better.
Inside the technology
Armed with Richman’s ideology, add to that tool performance, innovation and fast to market, and Milwaukee has found a recipe for success. Boasting its platform of four business units of power tools, power tools accessories, hand tools and test and measurement equipment, it was Milwaukee’s cordless tools that was front and center and stood out for me. Attendees tested the cordless offering first-hand, from the Sawzall with M18 Fuel batteries to the cordless grinders and cordless drill drivers, for example. M18 Fuel is a line of tools that incorporate three technologies (Redlithium batteries, Powerstate Brushless Motor & REdlink Electronics).
In fact, ironically, the No. 1 selling corded tool that Milwaukee currently sells is its battery chargers. And Milwaukee continues to set the bar with its battery technology. Lithium-Ion opens the door to incorporate more advanced electronics and technologies.
“As seen in Milwaukee’s recent launch of M18 Fuel, Lithium-Ion has allowed Milwaukee to integrate their new Powerstate brushless motor and Redlink Plus Intelligence system to deliver up to 10 times longer life, 25% more power and 50% more run-time than competitors,” said Paul Fry, vice president of cordless product management, Milwaukee Tool Corporation.
Redlink Plus Intelligence delivers a high-efficiency commutation for longer run time. This hardware and software is the world’s most advanced system of cordless power tool electronics that will maximize performance and protect the user’s investment. Redlink Plus Intelligence is a best-in-class system that integrates full-circle communication between tool, battery and charger, and constantly monitors this internal network to maintain ideal conditions. And all batteries become backward compatible, meaning that they are compatible with existing tools in the line.
Demonstrating an unrelenting commitment to innovation, Milwaukee Tool introduced its 6th generation of Lithium-Ion with Redlithium 2.0 and XC4.0 batteries in 2013, which provide up to two times more run-time, 20% more power and over two times more recharges than standard Lithium-Ion batteries. The new technology also operates in extreme temperatures as low as 0°F/-18°C and will run 20% cooler with fade free power and no memory effect.
The M12 platform is the largest sub-compact system in the industry, offering innovative solutions in power, productivity and portability. Milwaukee continues to improve on the M12 platform of tools that are smaller in size, yet more powerful and ergonomic with increased performance.
Other innovative tools and accessories on display:
• Fastback II Utility Knife — A direct reflection of jobsite research and requests to include blade storage for added convenience, the Fastback II has all the award winning features of the Original Fastback Utility Knife, with the addition of magnetic blade storage that folds into the handle for maximum accessibility. Designed to activate the blade 3 times faster than a two-handed opening, the Fastback II Utility Knife features a Press & Flip-one handed blade opening for easy activation. In addition, a tool free blade change allows for fast and efficient adjustments, while a thin body design makes it easy for a user to store the knife in their pocket. The new magnetic blade storage will hold one spare blade at a time to keep the profile of the blade as slim as possible.
• M18 FUEL 4-1/2" - 5" paddle grip, no-lock and slide switch, lock-on grinders — Available in October, these grinders feature M18 Fuel, along with Powerstate Brushless Motor, Redlithium Battery Pack and Redlink Plus Intelligence Hardware and Software – to deliver unmatched power, run-time and durability. “A grinder should do three things: it should cut, it should grind — material removal — and it should surface prep. This is the first grinder tool that truly delivers all three versus just one of the three,” said Andrew Plowman.
• M18 Fuel Sawzall Reciprocating Saw — Adding more performance to an already contractor favorite, the Sawzall continues to impress, “With unmatched advancements in the motor, battery and electronic technologies, each of the new M18 Fuel products represent breakthrough innovation within our cordless ecosystem. These tools will provide unprecedented levels of productivity and flexibility for the user,” said Christian Coulis, director of marketing for Milwaukee Tool Corporation.